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Kim Jong Un requested ‘famous basketball players’ during nuke talks with US: report

President Donald Trump walks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a break in talks at the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on Feb. 28, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
May 10, 2019

As talks for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula have come to a standstill, it is now being reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un requested that “famous [American] basketball players” be sent to “normalize relations” as part of an agreement, according to new reports.

Kim reportedly made an official request in writing ahead of his and President Donald Trump’s second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, which abruptly ended with no deal in February.

At one point, Kim even asked for his request to be included in a joint statement on denuclearization, according to two unnamed U.S. officials, ABC News reported this week.

The State Department told ABC, ““While we did not reach an agreement with the DPRK [North Korea] at Hanoi, we exchanged detailed positions and narrowed the gap on a number of issues.”

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Kim is no stranger to American basketball.

His relationship with Dennis Rodman, the former NBA basketball superstar who has long-touted a friendship with Kim, has been heavily publicized, especially surrounding the two Trump-Kim summits.

Kim Jong Un is reportedly an NBA fan, specifically of the Chicago Bulls. Rodman famously played for the Bulls in the late 1990s.

Rodman first visited North Korea in 2013. During that trip, Rodman notoriously sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim Jong Un and referred to him as his “best friend.” Rodman has recently traveled to North Korea as a private citizen, last in June 2017.

Rodman, 57, in the past has embarked on what he referred to as “basketball diplomacy,” playing pick-up games in North Korea with other NBA stars.

Aside from his basketball fame, Rodman was also a contestant on the reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice, which President Trump made famous. Trump was not President at the time his show was running on television. Rodman was a contestant on season eight of The Apprentice, which aired in 2009.

Rodman has also offered to help ease tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and he wrote a letter to President Trump after the second summit collapsed.

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This week, the Pentagon suspended its plans to recover any U.S. troops’ remains in North Korea, this after nuclear talks have come to a standstill and there has been a lack of communication on North Korea’s part. Diplomatic talks have stalled or made little progress across the board, including on the topic of denuclearization

North Korea has also test-fired short-range missiles, two tests within one week alone, and the U.S. also seized a North Korean coal ship found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions.